Daily Israel Report
More

Zion's Corner Blogs


Memorial to be Held for Irgun Fighter who Converted to Judaism

Wednesday marks the anniversary of the death of Baruch Mizrahi, an Arab who converted to Judaism and fought in the Irgun resistance movement.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 4/13/2011, 4:14 AM

Israel News photo: Arutz Sheva

On Wednesday, a memorial service will be held in Netanya, marking 63 years since the death of Baruch Mizrahi.

Mizrahi was born 85 years ago to Mahmoud and Fatima and his name was Hamuda Abu Al-Anyan. His family was a famous family who lived in Tzfat. As a child he lived near the local Beitar stronghold in Tzfat and through this he came to be influenced by the Jews’ lifestyle and by the national spirit in the Beitar stronghold.

Eventually he converted and became known as Avraham Ben Avraham. Naturally, Ben Avraham joined the underground Jewish movement, the Irgun, and took part in their activities against the British who ruled Israel at the time. During this time he changed his name to Baruch Mizrahi and was known by that name since.

At one point, Mizrahi was captured and exiled along with hundreds of Irgun fighters to a detention camp in Eritrea. The British entrusted the maintenance of the prisoners from Israel in the hands of the Sudanese natives, who more than once would randomly fire at Jewish prisoners.

On January 17, 1946, Mizrahi was one of several people who were severely wounded when the Sudanese guards opened fire at the Jewish prisoners. In a rare gesture, the British agreed to return him to Israel for further treatment, and indeed Baruch Mizrahi recovered. After he recovered, since he was still considered a terrorist by the British, Mizrahi was released but on condition that he would report to the police station once a week and sign in. These sign-ins were overseen by an Arab police officer.

After the adaptation of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine in November of 1947, the Irgun began fighting the Arab enemy, in particular against two major Arab gangs: One in Jerusalem and one in northern Israel, led by Fawzi al-Qawuqji.

The Irgun was assigned to bring a truck bomb into al-Qawuqji’s headquarters in Jenin. Mizrahi was chosen for the job since he looked like an Arab, was well-versed in Arab customs, and had an Arabic accent. Mizrahi boarded an Arab bus that took him to meet the Arab collaborator who would give him the truck and the explosives. During the long ride, the passengers befriended Baruch Mizrahi, whom they thought to be an Arab.

When the bus reached the Megiddo Junction, it was stopped by a barricade set up by the Arab gang. Unfortunately for Mizrahi, one of the gang members was that same Arab policeman with whom Mizrahi would check in at the police station. The policeman identified Mizrahi and he was brought, together with the Arabs with whom he became friends during the trip, to Jaba, where they were all murdered. Mizrahi’s body was thrown in a nearby cave.

Nineteen years later in 1967, Jaba was conquered by the IDF during the Six Day War. After the war, Mizrahi’s friends recalled that when he was wounded in Eritrea, he made a request to be buried in Israel if he dies. Mizrahi’s friends came to Jaba, located the cave and recovered his body. Mizrahi was later brought to burial in the military cemetery in Netanya, in the presence of Menachem Begin and the Irgun fighters.

Baruch Mizrahi had no family (he was a convert who died at the age of 22 before he could marry). The members of the Jewish community of Sa-Nur, which was destroyed by the Israeli government during the 2005 Disengagement Plan, “adopted” Mizrahi and tens of thousands of visitors who came to visit northern Samaria would hear his moving story.

“We wanted to put up a statue and also build a school in his memory, but unfortunately we were driven out of Sa-Nur,” said the former residents of the community. “What we have left is to go to his grave each year on the anniversary of his death. Hopefully we will soon return fully to Homesh and to Sa-Nur and then we will be able to commemorate this hero properly.”

The memorial service for Baruch Mizrahi will be attended by representatives from Sa-Nur, representatives of Beitar, and other people who will come to pay their respect to him. The service will be held on Wednesday, April 13, at 10:00am Israel time in the military section of the old cemetery in Netanya.